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BRAZIL’S SHARP TURN

BRAZIL’S SHARP TURN

As expected, Jair Bolsonaro and Fernando Haddad have advanced to the second round of Brazil’s presidential election, which will be held on October 28. There were two surprises. First, with 46 percent of the vote, the surging Bolsonaro nearly won without the need for a runoff. Second, in the country’s congressional elections, a populist wave has lifted his once-obscure Social Liberal Party (PSL) to new heights.


Bolsonaro, a controversial law-and-order candidate, will probably win the head-to-head matchup with Haddad later this month, but his extreme unpopularity with voters on the left will help Haddad make it closer than the first-round margin might suggest.

The bottom line: Another set of voters has demanded dramatic change. Just as establishment figures in the United States, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Pakistan, and Sweden have lost significant ground to fresh faces and new parties over the past two years, Brazilians have sent familiar presidential candidates, incumbent governors, and long-time lawmakers packing.

It’s clear that the worst recession in the country’s history, its largest-ever public corruption scandal, and one of the world’s highest murder rates have taken a heavy toll on the country’s political elite. Bolsonaro appears to be the beneficiary, and his likely victory on October 28 will shift the country’s government further from the emphasis on poverty alleviation and inclusion of the Workers Party governments of the past toward a focus on conservative social values and an increasingly tough-minded (sometimes brutal) approach to law enforcement.

Now for the catch: Change costs money, and the new president, probably Bolsonaro, won’t have much to work with. About two-thirds of Brazil’s federal budget is automatically directed toward payment of pensions, public health care, and the salaries of government workers. If more money is to go toward badly needed investment in the country’s tumble-down infrastructure or to help police restore order in the country’s largest cities, entitlement reform is crucial. That means building a political coalition to change the country’s constitution.

Bolsonaro’s party will increase the number of its seats from 8 to 52 in Brazil’s 513-member lower house of Congress, but unless the tough-talking new chief executive is willing to cut deals with a large number of lawmakers in a large number of different political parties, and fight to prevent the legislative watering down of painful spending reforms—and unless a new president despised by a significant number of citizens can persuade them that austerity is necessary, some of Brazil’s biggest problems won’t be addressed.

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Learn more about how carbon created life on Earth in the second episode of Eni's Story of CO2 series.

On September 23, GZERO Media — in partnership with Microsoft and Eurasia Group — gathered global experts to discuss global recovery from the coronavirus pandemic in a livestream panel. Our panel for the discussion Crisis Response & Recovery: Reimagining while Rebuilding, included:

  • Brad Smith, President, Microsoft
  • Ian Bremmer, President and Founder, Eurasia Group & GZERO Media
  • Jeh Johnson, Partner, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP and former Secretary of Homeland Security.
  • John Frank, Vice President, UN Affairs at Microsoft
  • Susan Glasser, staff writer and Washington columnist, The New Yorker (moderator)

Special appearances by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde, and comedian/host Trevor Noah.

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Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective on the Navalny poisoning on Europe In 60 Seconds:

Can Europe get to the bottom of Russian opposition leader Navalny's poisoning? And if so, would it change anything?

One has got to the bottom of it, to certain extent. The evidence, there was a German laboratory confirming nerve agent, Novichok. They sent it to a French laboratory and the Swedish independent laboratory, they came to the exact same conclusions. I mean, it's dead certain. He was poisoned with an extremely poisonous nerve agent coming from the Russian state laboratories. Now, there is a discussion underway of what to do. I mean, the Russians are refusing any sort of serious discussions about it. Surprise, surprise. And we'll see what actions will be taken. There might be some sort of international investigation within the context of the OPCW, the international organization that is there, to safeguard the integrity of the international treaties to prevent chemical weapons. But we haven't seen the end of this story yet.

Watch as Nicholas Thompson, editor-in-chief of WIRED, explains what's going on in technology news:

Would Facebook actually leave Europe? What's the deal?

The deal is that Europe has told Facebook it can no longer transfer data back and forth between the United States and Europe, because it's not secure from US Intelligence agencies. Facebook has said, "If we can't transfer data back and forth, we can't operate in Europe." My instinct, this will get resolved. There's too much at stake for both sides and there are all kinds of possible compromises.

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